GEAR BOX

303 Protectant, cockpit covers

Posted Oct. 05, 2011, at 5:23 p.m.

Fall is one of the best paddling times of the year in Maine. Cool days, moderate winds and lots of color from the foliage make any trip worthwhile. Shortly now, you also may be thinking about storage for your favorite kayak or canoe for the colder months to come. Here are some tips.

Ideally, store kayaks on an end or on their sides where the strongest part of the hull is. Avoid using sawhorses or bridging your kayak, which may create dimples in the hull or deck.

A cockpit cover not only keeps out leaves and debris, but also discourages squirrels, chipmunks or other rodents from using your kayak as their winter quarters. A cockpit cover should fit snugly, and it’s a good idea to tie the loop handle onto your deck bungee just in case of a big storm. If outside, it’s still practical to check it once or twice over the winter for water or snow.

Ultraviolet rays can fade plastic materials. A sun-resistant product like 303 Protectant is like SPF 40 for your boat and is helpful in keeping your kayak looking new.

Finally, a good washing of the hull, inside and out, will help with foot pedals, worn deck bungee and, if applicable, your rudder system. Some preventive maintenance now will ensure a quick start in the spring when open water starts calling again.

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